In this job we are always learning, and a slight change from the normal this week was undertaking some temporary pond creation at Crowdy Reservoir for South West Lakes Trust. The work was part of Buglife’s Marvellous Mud Snails project. And yes Mud Snails were new to me as well, though they did bring to mind Desmoulin’s Snail, which was briefly a cause celebre when they held up major works to upgrade the Newbury by-pass back in the 1980s.
So, for those who want to know more about Marvellous Mud Snails, the project is seeking to both better understand and improve the plight of the Pond mud snail (Omphiscola glabra) in Cornwall and is funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery and the Ernest Cook Trust. The project is running a captive breeding programme with local schools and colleges and is creating new habitats in the form of ponds or scrapes to provide habitats for new snail populations and safeguard them for the future. Which is where we came in.
One of the sites selected for new temporary ponds / scrapes was Crowdy Reservoir, managed by one of our regular clients, South West Lakes Trust. We were up there last week and over the weekend, clearing brambles and excavating a series of small shallow pond and scrape areas.
The mud snails like temporary pools and ponds, burying themselves in the mud when it dries out, where they wait for the next rain. Crowdy Reservoir was one of the sites where they were once found but have since died out, so this will be a reintroduction rather than a new site for them. With the ponds now dug we are passing the baton to local schoolchildren for the breeding programme. Now that would have been fun if I was still at school…..
And as we headed off at the end of the day we were able to see a murmuration of thousands of starlings sweeping the skies as they arrived to roost for the night in the adjoining Sitka Spruce plantations managed by the Forestry Commission. Roost numbers here can apparently exceed 100,000 birds; even the sometimes maligned Sitka Spruce has its own ecological values!